The first time I saw IV Lab’s Newton building four and half years ago, it was basically just a warehouse full of miscellaneous parts and equipment. I was there to interview with a company I’d never heard of – Intellectual Ventures – for a job no one could really define for me. Some of the people I met with envisioned the Lab eventually employing one or two dozen people. On the other hand, Nathan Myhrvold threw down the challenge to build something as significant as Bell Labs. If they had outlined a clear plan to transform that warehouse into a working invention lab, I probably wouldn’t have taken the job. Instead, what I got was a challenge to build something new that could have a huge impact on technology, invention and maybe even the world. At its core, that’s what IV is all about.

Embracing the Challenge

IV Lab has come a long way since that empty warehouse. We’ve grown to five buildings and more than 130 staff working hard to bring some of IV’s most promising inventions to life. That includes the satellite antenna technology behind IV’s newest spin-out company, Kymeta. Working with IV’s Global Good program, we also just finished our groundbreaking new malaria modeling software and have inventions being field tested in Africa that could make a tangible impact on the quality of life in the developing world. Through it all, though, I’m most proud of the caliber of people we’ve put together and of our ability to maintain the scientific fearlessness that underpins our successes.

Invention is an inherently risky thing, and risk is scary.  As we learn to manage that risk, we will stop some work that could eventually succeed, and we will pursue some projects which perhaps should have been stopped in their infancy. Those misses and missed opportunities are a part of our growth as an organization, but that’s the kind of risk we have to take to uncover truly groundbreaking technology. That was the spirit that attracted me to IV, and it’s the same passion I look for in all of the Lab’s employees.

As we passed the third anniversary of the Lab’s public opening this past May, it’s obvious to me that we’re doing some things right, but that we still have a ways to go in many areas. However, I’m confident that our unique approach, incredible people and the lessons we’re learning along the way put our inventors, scientists and engineers in position to be the sparks that ignite tomorrow’s progress.  

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